Everything Leads to You

BOOK: Everything Leads to You
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Also by Nina LaCour:

Hold Still

The Disenchantments

DUTTON BOOKS

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Copyright © 2014 by Nina LaCour

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ISBN 978-1-101-59350-9

Version_1

To Kristyn and Juliet, loves of my life

Contents

Also by Nina LaCour

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

Part 1: THE VASTNESS

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Part 2: THE LOVE

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Part 3: THE APARTMENT

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-one

Chapter Twenty-two

Acknowledgments

Part 1
THE VASTNESS

Chapter One

Five texts are waiting for me when I get out of my English final. One is from Charlotte saying she finished early and decided to meet up with our boss, so she’ll see me at Toby’s house later. One is from Toby, saying,
7 p.m.: Don’t forget!
And three are from Morgan.

I don’t read those yet.

I head off campus and a few blocks over to where I parked my car in an attempt to avoid the daily after-school gridlock. But of course the driver’s side lock won’t unlock when I turn the key, so I have to go around the passenger side and open the door and climb across the seat to pull up the other lock and shut the passenger door and go around to the driver’s side again—and by the time I’m through with that twenty-second process, the cars are already backed up at the light. So I inch into the road and pull out my phone and read what Morgan wrote.

You okay?

R u coming to set later?

I miss you.

I don’t write back. I am going straight to set, but not to see her. I need to measure the space between a piano and a bookshelf to see if the music stand I found on Abbot Kinney Boulevard yesterday will make things look too crowded. The music stand is beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that if it doesn’t fit I will find a new bookshelf, or rearrange the furniture entirely, because this is exactly what I would have in my practice room if I knew how to play an instrument. And if I could afford a nine-hundred-dollar music stand.

As the light turns and I roll my car through the intersection, I’m trying to ignore Morgan’s texts and think only of the music stand. This music stand is a miracle. It’s exactly what I didn’t even know I was looking for. The part that holds the sheet music is this perfect oxidized green. When I texted my boss a picture of the stand she wrote back,
Fucking amazing!!!!
An expletive and four exclamation marks. And when I texted Morgan to tell her that this was the last time I would allow myself to get dumped by her, that breaking up and getting back together six times was already insane, and there was absolutely no way I would take her back a seventh, she replied with,
I don’t know what to do!
Indecisive and only mildly emphatic. So typical.

But the music stand, the music stand.

Turning right onto La Cienega, my phone rings and it’s Charlotte.

“You need to come here,” she says.

“Where?”

“Ginger took me to an estate sale.”

“A good one?”

“You just have to come.”

“Someone famous?”

“Yes,” she says.

“Sounds fun but I need to measure for that music stand.”

“Emi,” she says. “Trust me. You need to come here now.”

So I scribble down the address, make a U-turn, and head toward the Hollywood Hills. I drive up Sunset and roll down all the windows, partly because the air-conditioning doesn’t work and it’s ninety degrees, but mostly because I’m driving past palm trees and hundreds of beauty parlors and taco trucks and doughnut shops and clothing stores and nightclubs, and I like to take it all in and think about how Los Angeles is the best place in the world.

I turn when my phone tells me to turn and start ascending the hills, where the roads become narrower and the houses more expensive. I keep going, higher than I’ve ever gone, until the houses are not only way bigger and nicer than the already big, nice houses below them, but also farther apart. And, finally, I turn into a driveway that I’m pretty sure has never before encountered a beat-up hatchback with locks that don’t work.

I park under the branches of old, gorgeous trees that are full and green in spite of the arrival of summer, step out of my car, lean against the bumper, and take a look at this house. My job has taken me to a lot of ridiculously nice houses, but this one stands out. It’s older and grander, but there’s more to it than that. It just feels different. More significant. I’m not thinking about Morgan and thinking instead about who might have owned this house. It was probably someone old, which is good, because an estate sale means someone has died, and it’s sad to dig through thirty-year-old people’s stuff and think about the futures they could have had.

The double front doors swing open and Charlotte steps into the sun. Her jeans are rolled up at the ankles and her blond hair is in pigtails, and her face is part serious, part elated.

“Guess,” she says.

I try to think of who has died in the last couple of weeks. My first thought is our physics teacher’s grandmother, but I seriously doubt she would have lived in a house like this one. Then I think of someone else, but I don’t say anything because the thought is crazy. This death is huge. Front-page huge. Every-time-I-turn-on-the-radio huge.

But then—there’s this house, which is clearly an important house, and old, beautiful trees, and Charlotte’s mouth, which is twitching under the tremendous effort of not smiling.

Plus it isn’t swarming with people, which means this is some kind of preview that Ginger got invited to because she’s a famous production designer and she always gets called to these things first.

“Holy shit,” I say.

And Charlotte starts nodding.

“You’re not serious.”

Her hands fly to her face because she’s giddy with the delirious laughter of someone who has spent the last hour in the house of a man who was arguably the most emblematic actor in American cinema.

Clyde Jones. Icon of the American Western.

She leans against the house, doubles over, slides onto the marble landing. I let her have one of her rare hysterical fits of laughter as I take it all in. I can’t think of enough expletives to perfectly capture this moment. I would need a year’s worth of exclamation points. So I just stare, openmouthed, thinking of the man who used to live here.

Charlotte’s hysterics die down, and soon she is standing, composed again, back to her super-brilliant, future museum-studies-major self.

“Come in,” she says.

I pause in the colossal doorway. Outside is bright and hot, a beautiful Los Angeles day. Inside it’s darker. I can feel the air-conditioning escaping. Even though this is an amazing opportunity that will never come again, I don’t know if I should go any farther. The thing is this: My brother, Toby, and I talk all the time about what movies do. They speak to our desires, which are never small. They allow us to escape and to dream and to gaze into eyes that are impossibly beautiful and huge. When you live in LA and work in the movies, you experience the collapse of some of that fantasy. You know that the eyes glow like that because of lights placed at a specific angle, and you see the actresses up close and, yes, they are beautiful, but they are human size and imperfect like the rest of us.

This, though, is different.

Because even if you know a little bit too much about how movies are made, there are always things you don’t know. You can hold on to the myth surrounding the actors; you can get swept up in the story.

Clyde Jones belongs in the Old West. He belongs under the stars, smoking hand-rolled cigarettes and listening to the wind. In
A Long Time Till Tomorrow
he lived in a log cabin. In
Lowlands
he lived out of a green pickup truck, sleeping by the side of the road a couple hours at a time, searching for a woman from his past.

Clyde Jones is the savior. The good, uncomplicated man. The perfect cowboy. But as soon as I walk through this doorway he will be an actor who spent his life in a Los Angeles mansion. The ultimate collapse of the fantasy.

“Em?” Charlotte says. She steps to the left, gesturing that I should follow, and I can’t help myself. A moment later I’m in Clyde Jones’s foyer, the doors shut behind me, gazing at one of the most beautiful objects I’ve ever beheld: a low-hanging chandelier, geometric and silver and shining.

Clyde Jones was no cowboy, but his aesthetic sensibilities were amazing.

I’m still dying over Clyde’s house when Ginger strides past me.

“Oh, good, Emi, you made it.” Charlotte and I follow her into the living room.

“Yeah,” I say, standing under the high white-beamed ceiling, next to what I can only assume is a pair of original Swan chairs positioned under a huge pastoral landscape with a clear sky as endless as the skies in his films. “It’s probably better that I don’t go to the studio today.”

“These glasses,” Ginger says, pointing, and Charlotte walks over to a shiny minibar and takes a tray of highball glasses. “Why should you avoid the studio? Oh, let me guess: Morgan.”

“She broke up with me.”

“Again?”

“Something about not being tied down. Life’s vast possibilities.”

“‘Life’s vast possibilities.’ Such bullshit,” Charlotte says, setting the glasses next to a group of other beautiful objects that Ginger must have already chosen.

I say, “Yeah,” but only because that’s what Charlotte needs me to say. Charlotte is the kind of friend who automatically hates everyone who has ever done me wrong. The first time Morgan broke up with me and we got back together, Charlotte tried her best to get over it and be nice to Morgan. But somewhere around the third time, Charlotte got rude. Stopped saying hi. Stopped smiling around her. By now, Charlotte can’t even hear Morgan’s name without clenching her jaw.

Ginger shoots me a sympathetic look.

“It’s okay,” I tell her. “I’m done with movie people.”

And then we all laugh, because really. What a ridiculous thing to say.

~

When Ginger is finished choosing what she wants, she lets Charlotte and me explore for a while and see if there’s anything we want to buy. We find ourselves in Clyde’s study, which has to be the size of my brother’s entire apartment. It has high ceilings supported by thick wooden beams and an entire wall of windows with doors that slide open to the land in back. Of all the rooms, this one feels the most Western. There’s an enormous rustic table that he must have used as a desk and a collection of leather chairs arranged in a semicircle facing a cavernous fireplace. Shelves line the entirety of one of the side walls, and covering the shelves are hundreds of awards including four Oscars, along with objects from his films: cowboy hats and guns and silver belt buckles.

Most people our age don’t know or care very much about Clyde. His career is long over. His roles were rarely sophisticated or smart; there isn’t much to recommend him to my generation. But my brother has eclectic tastes, and when he loves something, it becomes nearly impossible not to love it along with him. So over the years I became infatuated with the moment that Clyde appears on the horizon or in the saloon or riding through tall grass toward the woman he loves.

BOOK: Everything Leads to You
13.76Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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